Since I started to use Evernote in every aspect of my classroom, I wasn't really sure what I was going to discover. I was sure there would be some way that Evernote was not going to meet my needs and I would be forced to add another tool to my chest while I continue the experiment for the school year. One way I was weary of was lesson planning. I have used the the traditional planner book for years and it has always been very good to me. I could easily flip back and see what I what I did the year before as I planned the upcoming school year. I'm not a big fan of trying to fix things that are not broken, but I figured I needed to give it a try in the name of the Experiment. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
Here is a shot of my desktop version of Evernote. I have created lesson plan notebooks for each class I'm teaching. Within those notebooks, I've created notes for the individual units I have created for the school year. For each unit, I do not place dates, because I want the flexibility to move units around as I need to.
Within the notebooks for the specific classes, I have scanned and uploaded various assignments I had in paper form only and added them to new notes. For assignments I already had in digital form, I copied and pasted them into new notes. This was a very simple and smooth process. I now have every document I need to teach a full year of school.
Since all of my students will have Evernote accounts, I can easily share the assignments with the students in specially created notebooks. I can take a note, copy it and place it in the shared notebook when I assign the work. No handouts, copies or lost work. It will be there for the students the moment I place it in the notebook. There will be a tremendous amount of time saved by not having to pass out assignments to everyone at the start or end of the class.
I have also created notebooks that contain notes on tech tips for using the various tools. The students will have complete access to any and all information when they want and where they need it. Simple things like this will save everyone involved some time when it comes to troubleshooting. As the school year moves along, I will be able to add new notes to address issues that come up along the way.
One of my favorite parts of lesson planning in Evernote is the ability to tag my notes.
If I want to see all of the different essay assignments for first semester, I just need to search tags for "Essay writing" and "First Semester." Only those notes will appear in the search field. I can narrow the search down as much as I want. It is awesome. I was never much of a tagger when it came to using Evernote for personal use, but for lesson planning, it would be stupid not to tag everything. My notebooks are only going to grow over time, so tagging makes sense when I want to find something to edit it or even share it. Tagging is going to save me so much time down the road. No longer will I be digging through a filing cabinet looking for "that" assignment. A quick search of my tags will have it ready in a flash.
As I look at the set up, I have to say the best part is the fact I do not need to re-invent the wheel a year from now. It took me hours to sit and plan out an entire school year for three classes, but it is worth it. I will not have to do it again. I will have to tweak assignments and I might remove or add readings, but the bulk of my content is saved for life.
Another nice bit is that my lessons are available on my iPhone, iPad, home computer and anywhere I have Internet access. If I want, I can download all of these notes and access them when the Internet is down. I've spilt drinks on my lesson planner before, it was an awful experience. Now, it's not a problem.
If you are looking for a new way to approach lesson planning, please take the time to explore how Evernote can change and improve the way you prepare for the school year. You will not regret it.